June 22, 2009

Writing in Translation: Author Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

The Writer

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is the author of the novels, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT (St. Martin's, Available Now) and the forthcoming LOVE IN TRANSLATION (St. Martin's, November 2009). Japan and Japanese culture have been major influences on her life and this is reflected in much of her writing. Her novel, NO KIDDING, won the Literary/Mainstream Fiction category in Writer’s Digest’s Best Self-Published Book Awards in 2002. She is also the author of two children's non-fiction books, and has had short stories published in various literary journals. Wendy signed her two-book deal with St. Martin’s just as she was beginning the MFA in Writing program at the University of San Francisco in 2006. Along with her MFA, she also holds a BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University.

You can learn more about Wendy through her website, blog, Chirashi: A Japan Culture Blog, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, and RedRoom.

The Books

Available Now!

Midori Saito, a young woman, fresh from Japan and too independent for Japanese society, refuses to heed her mother’s advice that marrying a foreigner will bring her nothing but trouble. Turns out Mom was right and Midori is now suddenly on her own in San Francisco. Will she be able to find her American Dream and the perfect dessert?

Click the cover above to order your copy of Midori by Moonlight today!

Coming November 2009!

After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysteries, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. Once there she stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems; a land of gaijin worshippers, karaoke boxes, and sushi fortune tellers. But it is when she learns a Japanese song called “The Wishing Star” that everything changes. She not only has to battle with the unbearably perky queen of Japanese reality TV, but also must navigate the rocky road to finding real love, the true meaning of family, and the discovery of her own voice.

Click the cover above to pre-order your copy of Love in Translation today!

On Culture & Writing

How important is it for you to integrate your cultural experiences into your writing?
As you can probably tell from my photograph, I am not Japanese. I’m Caucasian, was born in San Francisco, and my Japanese last name comes from my husband. Both my novels are about Japan and Japanese culture. When I took my first creative writing class many years ago, the teacher required us to complete three short stories in a semester. And all three that sprang out of me were about some aspect of Japanese culture. I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s what happened, and it made me realize how important this culture has been in my life.

In viewing media - TV, movies, books, radio, etc., how do you see Japanese culture being conveyed?
Although things have improved, I still see a lot of stereotypes in the media, mainly of subservient, geisha-like women or samurai types. Many novels written in English that deal with Japan are historical fiction so they are not dealing with a very up-to-date image. In contrast are Japanese animation and manga (comics), which can run the gamut from sci-fi/fantasy to porn to everyday life in Japan, and which are growing increasingly popular with young Americans.

What do you look to convey about Japanese culture through your writing?
I hope to shed light on modern life in Japan as well as show those Japanese who struggle with the straitjacket society that Japan can be, especially when it comes to gender roles. As an American who has lived in Japan, there are many things I love about the place, but I have never felt the need or desire to escape from American culture into Japanese. But there is a saying in Japan that the nail that sticks out always gets hammered down. Some Japanese people cannot tolerate this kind of conformity requirement and, in turn, escape to the West. This is my husband’s experience and what I write about in Midori by Moonlight, though I’ve certainly fictionalized it, and also turned the protagonist into a woman.

I have always been fascinated by people who feel the need to trade in their native culture for a new one. I’m also interested in culture shock and feeling like a stranger in a strange land when living in another culture. I explore this theme in Love in Translation, which is about an American woman who finds herself unexpectedly living in Tokyo with a Japanese family.

Do you think writers are (or can be) spokespersons for their culture?
I think sometimes they become spokespersons unwittingly or because they are presented that way in the media. But I think you’re asking for trouble if you believe that you can speak for all people of a particular culture.

If you are a writer who writes outside your culture, talk to us about that experience. What have you learned about yourself during the process?
Japan and Japanese culture have been such a big part of my life that I don’t even notice it anymore. A lot of it is ingrained by now, but I will never be Japanese nor is that my goal. I like to think that my husband and I take the best parts of both of our cultures the way we live our lives, with a healthy combination of American “me-centric” individualism and the Japanese way of “ki ga tsuku” -- making sure to anticipate another’s needs over our own.

June 15, 2009

Temperature's Rising with Author Dapharoah69

The Writer

What do you get when you have a young ambitious Nassau, Bahamian man from Goulds, Florida (Miami) who became his own publisher, hype man, advertising guru, model, photographer, editor, copy editor, CEO and was one of CLIK Magazine's Top 25 Sexiest, Most Eligible bachelors in October of 2007? You get Dapharoah69, The King of Erotica." He co-authored and co-edited an anthology called Voices From Within, released on World AIDS Day in 2000. The book was selected for Body Positive Magazine's Book of the Month Club in 2001. He was selected as an extra in the Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton Hollywood blockbuster Bandits. In January of 2007, he unveiled his first book, The King of Erotica: The Throne, a collection of unapologetic sexual short stories with a message. In Feb of 2008, he released The King of Erotica Book 2.

His books were the focal points for more than 45 Book Clubs across the country. On Valentine's Day 2009 he released the VIP version of The King of Erotica 3. Two days later it debut in the Barnes and Noble Bestselling Top 600 books. Six hours later all three of The King of Erotica Novels soared into the Barnes and Noble.com Bestselling Top 100 books at the same time, with Book 3 peaking at #71. He shared the list with Steve Harvey, Obama and John Grisham. On February 20, 2009, he was the ONLY self-published author with three titles in the Barnes and Noble Top 100.

His writing gives a deeper understanding of why some people have the type of sex the way they do. The book also touches on taboo topics seldom discussed in the black community. He writes from the gay, straight, female, and male points of view with devastating accuracy.

Dapharoah69 is a man who doesn't hold anything back. His new book, Some Men Wear Panties, was released in Mid-March accompanied by a multi-city Pink Panties Tour. His take-no-prisoners attitude has reflected in the response from his die-hard fans.

You can learn more about Dapharoah69 by checking him out at MySpace, Facebook, and the Pink Panties Tour.

The Books

Well I have four books coming out this year. The first was The King of Erotica 3's VIP version, a book for the fans. Brand new short stories. The second will be Some Men Wear Panties. It will be released on Bestselling Author J.L. King's Imprint. King's the famous author of the book On the Down Low that was selected on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The third book is The OFFICIAL King of Erotica 3: The SWORD and will be the LAST the King of Erotica book I will ever write. And the fourth is my first FULL NOVEL called Call Her Queen Hatshepsut and will be the most controversial book to date. It deals with a deranged black woman who brainwashes her son and raises him as a girl to get back at the father, who married and fathered a child with her identical twin sister.

Men have a phobia for women's panties when it comes to wearing them. They feel their manhood will be compromised. In public and in public conversation they denounce ever wearing them. But when the sun goes down the freak comes out. Inhibitions are unleashed and conservatism takes a back seat to wild sex, booze and denial. They live in the shadows and the darkness, with secret fetishes for panties. They act out their deepest fantasies using them. But when the sun rise they hide them in drawers, in brief cases or wear them under their suits...with secret smiles on their faces that they got away with it.

But did they.

Click the cover above to order your copy of Some Men Wear Panties today!

A Lil about Call Her Queen Hatshepsut:

Chess is a competitive game between two players. Each piece has its own style of moving. But what happens when a deranged woman tricks two lovers into playing the game of their lives? Hatshepsut is a confused woman. She treats people the way she wants to be treated using an eight-by-eight grid of hope and empathy. The only things missing from her life is love and the sixteen pieces it's comprised of. It's missing because she was born a man. Avarice James, Hatshepsut's mother, is an embattled plastic surgeon content on getting what she wants. Deeply rooted by the 64 squares of wickedness, two people she loved the most has castled her before she moved a pawn...the king, Kayak Burke, her son's father and her biggest rival, the rook, Rosa James, her identical twin sister. Rosa has always turned Avarice's existence into a horrid checkmate. She dressed like her, spoke her dialogue, and tarnished Avarice's reputation to achieve the unconscionable. Desperate, Rosa moves a pawn, trapping Kayak in a lustful game of sex that leads her and Avarice into unwanted pregnancies. When Avarice diagonally moves the queen across white squares, taking a bishop and Rosa castles across black squares, taking a knight, Avarice does something so explosive that it inevitably turns Rosa, Kayak, and the death of his son into the pawns they truly are. Avarice masters the game with skill and patience...She brainwashes her son, disguises him as a girl and names him Hatshepsut. Any memory of Rosa and Kayak has been eradicated...until the time is right! This account extends all racial barriers. If you have ever loved, been betrayed and lost a child this harrowing story will open your heart and cause you to search your soul and question your faith. Call her Queen Hatshepsut: check mate!

On Culture & Writing

How important is it for you to integrate your cultural experiences into your writing?
It's extremely important. The world is a melting pot of cultures comprised of people being multi-racial or bi-racial. This means that a person becomes more diverse in their taste for music, food and entertainment. This also allows them to be more tolerant and eclectic when dealing with friends and other family members who may have another blood line. With that being said I research a lot of people, places and things before I write.

In viewing media - TV, movies, books, radio, etc., how do you see your culture being conveyed?
TV: Reality Shows have destroyed us as black people. Shows like I Love New York makes us look crass and degrading. A black woman with fake tits and horse hair runs around cursing up a storm, slapping other women, wearing whorish get-ups and sits back and takes pride in herself and wants compassion.

Bottom line, a white women spitting in New York's face on Flavor of Love made her an instant star.

Movies: Jada Pinkett. Will Smith. Denzel. Angela Basset. Morgan Freeman. Halle Berry. Laurence Fishbourne. Whoopi. Samuel L. Jackson. Loretta Devine. Queen Latifah. The aforementioned blacks made me proud to be an African-American with their stellar acting.

Books: Zane. Sistah Souljah. Omar Tyree. E. Lynn Harris. I love reading their works because it's diverse and some of their characters are bi-racial and of other cultures. This adds spice to us as a people.

Music: Well, I'm stuck on Janet Jackson. I love the OLD Janet better, when her albums had themes. This year Rhythm Nation been out 20 years. And I still bump that album when I write my books.

What do you look to convey about your culture through your writing?
I convey flaws. I convey realism, sexism and at times racism...even racism against ourselves. I convey backstabbers, taboo subjects us as blacks are too afraid to touch or talk about...I convey Holier-than-thou men and women and people struggling to make ends meet. Not all my characters are based in the ghetto. They are diverse, suffered abuse of inflict themselves in self-hate. I convey the ups and downs and the insolence. The highs and lows of love. Class.

Crassness at times. Pure ghetto. I convey EVERY aspect. I know a lot of people and I see a lot of people and I put that in my writing to show that we love, we fail, we are freaks, we run to the clubs, we then fall on our knees in church on Sunday and we do it all again. I convey realness, frankness and bluntness. I show our everyday issues. Women with men cheating on them with other women and other men. People with HIV purposely infecting each other because they are bitter. I use my books to stimulate then educate.

Do you think writers are (or can be) spokespersons for their culture?
Yes. Experience is the best teacher. Your own ups and downs, personal hell and perseverance serves as testimonies that may help others who are on the fence or need guidance. That's what experience really is all about. Giving God the glory for making it through and you getting your blessings in the end when people are inspired by your courage and strength. I recently contracted HIV. At first I held my head down and hid it from family and friends. But then I woke up. I'm a bestselling author and it's my duty to try to save as many lives as I can. So I publicly (on Myspace and Facebook) told everyone. And since then people from as far as South Africa to the U.S. are inspired to have safer sex or to go to get tested themselves.

If you are a writer who writes outside your culture, talk to us about that experience. What have your learned about yourself during the process?
I deal with whites, blacks, Spanish folks and Haitians, Dominicans, etc. I love them all for their individuality and for embracing who they are and representing where they come from. I'm a Nassau, Bahamian man who was born in Salinas, California, and raised in Goulds, Florida (MIAMI). I have come in contact with different foods, music and beliefs. And it reflects in my writing. Researching these cultures opened up my tolerance level and allowed me to mentally travel outside of my comfort zone. And since then my taste in food and music has diversified. I listen to rock, heavy metal, R&B and Salsa because of it. And it reflects in some of my writing.

I will include an excerpt from my bestselling book The King of Erotica 2: THE CROWN. The story is called "OOPS."

If you're not grown, read no further.

I worked all the time. I had a wife and a home to support. Nothing else in this world meant more to me then breaking my back for a woman who was my Queen.

My wallet, bank account and house were hers. I put my all into my marriage.

Now I had nothing.

Marriage was challenging, considering I was a white man married to a black woman. I went through all the “Oh, no you didn’t marry a black woman!” stares at work and in public. But that didn’t deter me from loving her and showing her public affection. Black men sneered at me in disgust and every time I turned my back they pounced on her as if she was a water buffalo and they needed nourishment. She remained loyal. She was a startling beauty: big ample breasts, perky nipples, Apple Bottom derriere, and chiseled Janet Jackson abs. She was a work out buff. She had short, croppy hair, loved poetry, loved eating the best foods and danced to the best music.

When I met her at the Muvico Movie Theater in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just off of Sheridan West (traveling North on I-75), a couple months ago, she looked very vulnerable attending the Mission Impossible 3 premiere by herself. I could tell she loved Tom Cruise. The stallion of black men trying to get her attention was amazing. The way certain black men grabbed her hand and she seemed to cringe. She told one of them, a tall basketball player type, “Look, don’t touch me. I don’t know you and I’m not your goddamn Mama!” He retreated without hesitation. I was laughing to myself, finding it all amusing. She lusted after a white man on a poster, so out of touch with reality because he was in Hollywood—still being ridiculed for the stunt he pulled on the Oprah Winfrey show—and she was in Florida. She knew he existed, but hadn’t one iota that she existed.

Home girl looked good in tight snake-print pants, long leather boots with spiked heels with the cowboy golden spinners behind the backs. Her chandelier earrings sparkled with abandon. The long-sleeved gold blouse with a huge oval button holding her breasts in place for dear life was something I had never seen on a woman. Pretty classy, if you asked me. She definitely had junk in her trunk. I told myself: Maybe tonight is my lucky night. I was thirty-five, single, very handsome. My drinking buddies said I looked like a young Brad Pitt. I took that as a compliment. I actually won a Brad Pitt look alike contest three months ago up in Aspen when I went skiing with some old college buddies.

Clad in nice blue Dockers pants, a pink IZOD shirt, and pink Banana Republic shoes, I made my way over to her.

I made small talk. Why not? The only thing she could possibly do was a) dismiss me—like most black women seemed to do, despite hearing, “Damn, you’re cute, but I don’t do snowballs…”—or b) give me a little tongue tag.

Here goes. “Movie seems like it’ll be better than the first two installments.”

She smiled at me, eyes sparkling. Hotdamn. She was a beauty. Definitely caused a ruckus in my briefs. My veins seemed to tighten when she smiled. She extended her hand.

“I’m Bianca. And your name is?”

I was salivating something terrible. “I’m Ted Oxford.”

She grinned. “Like Ted Bundy from Married with Children,” she joked, patting my shoulder. “Just kidding.”

“Nah, I am not married and I don’t have children.”

She didn’t believe me. “Good looking man such as yourself? Not Married? What about kids you don’t know about?”

“Sister, I’m 35 years old. I can count on one hand how many women I slept with in my life time.”

She was definitely interested. “Wow. White men own the world and the blondes with it and you can count on one hand how many you slept with?”

Now I was grinning. “Yes. Don’t forget HIV runs rampant like the winter Olympics.”

“Amen, Dustin Hoffman. No. No. You look like Brad Pitt.”

“Phew. Dustin Hoffman over Brad Pitt? You had me about to search for Oceans Fourteen to get the hell away from you,” I joked, smiling.

She touched my hand. “I’m a direct woman.”

I gripped it. “Like wise.”

She rubbed her thumb over my hand. “I take it your favorite color is pink.”

I felt the chemistry building. “Yea. Unusual for a man, I know, but I don’t live by the rules.”

Her eyes drank me like Scotch. “I like that. Your zodiac sign is?”

My heart raced. “Pisces.”

“So your birthday passed,” she said, forgetting we were in a theatre.

“Yes. March 15th.”

“I’m a Scorpio,” she informed me.

I was enjoying her already. “Nice. Powerful and manipulative. I better stand guard.”

We laughed easily. “Down, Buster. Favorite food?”

“Shrimp scampi.”

She nodded her head. “Same here. No hotdogs and pork and beans for this bitch.”

I was impressed. “Articulate, are we?”

She hugged me. “Very. Favorite singer?”

I felt good in her arms. “Well, Garth Brooks and a little bit of Janet Jackson, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.”

She pushed away from me playfully. “Garth is straight. Faith is cool. Janet is ok. You’re a man so you like Janet because of…”

“Her tits. I can’t lie. I’m straight forward.”

“At least you’re honest. My favorite artists are Nelly and The Dixie Chicks.”

“Favorite song by the Chicks?”

“Wide Open Spaces. And I commend them for speaking out on cheating ass George Bush. They spoke for legions of black people in this country.”

“Believe me I regret voting for a lying, oil driven man myself.”

She snapped her fingers. I was confused. I figured it was some college thing. “Amen! I like you. You’re not half bad.”

“You’re a hot cookie yourself.”

“And your breath smells good. I can tell you don’t do tobacco.”

“Hell no. I do Tic Tacs and Jolly Ranchers. I can’t stand women who smoke.”

“I hear ya!”

Here it goes. I went in for the kill. I was about to get shot down. I breathed in deeply, closing my eyes. “Are you here with anybody, sexy woman such as


This is the part when I cringed. Go ahead. Give it to me. No. Because you’re white. Your ass is flat. Black men have dicks. I do dicks. Not cocks. You smell nice but I heard crackers smell like dogs when they get wet.

“I’m flying solo, like Amelia Earhart.”

“Care to join me for a movie. My treat.”

“Sure. I would love to. Thought you’d never ask.”

“Great.” I extended my arm and she put her hand through, not at all embarrassed to be out with a sexy white man with blue eyes.

“Lead the way,” she said, her nipples hardening. I couldn’t help but look. She didn’t strike me as a tough-talking, gum-snapping, head popping black chick that got rough and tough. She seemed really down to earth. I didn’t smell a hint of cigarette smoke in her clothing, didn’t see a hint of nicotine on her pearly white teeth. No caps and no fillings. Definitely two pluses.

We might just get along great.

Any closing comments you'd like to make regarding culture and writing?
Writing isn't about impressing people. You can't entertain everyone and you damn sure can't please everyone. So EXPRESS yourself and let that be the FIRST AND LAST IMPRESSION you have on the public. I don't care who likes my writing or not. As long as you GET SOMETHING FROM "IT" then my job is done. I can say AMEN. So be it. GOD gets the glory. And I get the blessing of writing my next book. Be you when you write.


"The Dressing Room"
from Some Men Wear Panties

If you're not grown, read no further.

I was late getting to work today. I knew I shouldn't have gone out to the Club last night. I was 36-years-old, and tried to cling to my youth like leeches to skin trying to get some blood.

But before I talk about work, if I did talk about work, I always changed my mind. I had thoughts of this morning. I looked at the niggah right now. Naked.

Uncensored. Exposed. In my bed. He is the first dude I ever brought home. Usually Hoes (females) made my home a Hotel-Motel-Holiday Inn giving them whatever they wanted 'cause I had it. The sun shined through the lacey curtains. The shapes all over his chest and the right side of his face – so angelic.

Around what? Three or four a.m? I was tossing and turning with someone. I felt his heat. His aura. His lust. Were vapors. Against my skin. I needed him.

Wanted him. Longed for his trust. His passion. His seeds flowering my garden.

Shaking thinking about it, I remembered yesterday, I went to T.Q. Bax, 'cause a brothah's Platinum Card was nearly maxed out, and I bought a very cool-looking cream-colored cashmere sweater, since it was a little chilly right now in Miami. I had a closet filled with attire. You know a brothah could never have too much money, cash, liquor, bud or ass. I was dressed in some jeans that fit snuggly, not too tight, just enough to show the shape of the Booty and the Dick. My slides showed off pedicured toes. My white T-shirt I could have done without and the robe I had on, which was eight sizes too small, looked more like a robe/coat.

I remember a few months ago I saw a dude staring at me when I was driving. Why I thought of him at that particular moment beats the hell outta me. I tried to wave him down, to see if I knew him, but traffic was a bitch and I kept maneuvering around Cubans who couldn't drive to save Fidel Castro's life. It was a very muggy, humid day, I had fallen out with my boss over a meeting I had forgotten to schedule and I was set to send a manuscript off to publishers hoping I could get some sort of recognition but to no avail.

I never caught up with ole boy but the thought has eaten at me for some time. Why was the dude staring at me? Did he like me or what? Because I didn't do the fag shit.

As a matter of fact thinking about my robe/coat, I was looking over the sweater by the entrance of the pulsating-with-life store. Briefly I looked up and noticed the female section across the way. I had an eerie feeling that something wasn’t right inside me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I went over to the female clothes and a big booty chick walked by, yapping on the phone. Yap yap yap, Girl and yap yap yap, No bitch yap yap yap.

I shook my head, looking at the booty for a minute, falling in love with the way it bounced in those Guess jeans.

I looked to my right and saw them – expensive satin panties. My mouth falling open, my dick was hard. There weren’t many people and I was suddenly horny. I walked down one of the aisles, the racks chest level. I noticed the cameras everywhere. I closed my eyes, taking a pair of panties and smelling them. Wow. I unzipped my pants and crawled inside the rack of women’s leather trench coats that hung to the floor…

Now this was crazy. I started stroking my dick with the panties, inhaling the leathery scent. A few women walked by chatting and I kept stroking, my nuts bouncing between my legs. One of the jackets was whisked from the rack.

“This will look good on me girl, with my rhinestone pumps.” She had blue weave and purple lips. Piercings were along her right ear and she wore tight black leather.

Another jacket left the rack and I was stuck, looking up at the women. They hadn’t noticed me, dick out and panties in my hand. Damn it, I could hardly breathe. I didn’t move a muscle, the beginnings of my orgasm subsiding back to the base of my nuts, telling the squirrels that their lunch break was over.

Another big girl saw me.

Her eyes wide, she was pointing excitedly.

“Oh my…”

I kicked her so hard in the shin she doubled into another rack, falling over. A few women rushed over to her and I got from behind the rack, grabbed a huge floral hat and pulled it low over my face. I fixed my pants. I was scared.

That’s what my dumb ass gets for stroking my stick in a store. I grabbed some sweat pants from the rack, rushed up the aisle and grabbed a man’s shirt and jacket. I saw a baseball cap.

I went into the dressing room and changed clothing. I saw a plastic bag and I put my clothes in there, tossing the floral hat.

I left the dressing room, hat pulled low over my eyes.

“I swear! A man was jacking his dick with panties in the rack!”

“Yea, sure,” said her friend, laughing at her.

June 13, 2009

Talking about Writing & Editing

Today, author/radio host Anjuelle Floyd had me on her show "Book Talk, Creativity & Family Matters" to talk about writing & editing.

Check it out below!

June 1, 2009

Going Live with Podcasts

Starting today, I am launching monthly podcasts via CLG Entertainment!

Every first of the month, I will bring you The Write Life for You, writing and editing tips derived from my popular article series of the same name.

Every fifteenth of the month, I will offer Once upon a time…, a place where I will flex my literary skills. Through poetry, faith pieces, excerpts from works in progress, and more, I will remind everyone why I am a true wordsmith.

We kick off CLG-E Podcasts with episode 1 of The Write Life for You, What's Your Writing Addiction. Head to CLG-E Podcasts NOW to have a listen.

Also, while there, rate the show, leave comments, and become a FAN!

Thanks in advance!